July 23rd, 2024

Judge delays Trump’s hush money sentencing until at least September after high court immunity ruling

By Jake Offenhartz And Jennifer Peltz, The Associated Press on July 2, 2024.

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Chesapeake, Va., Friday, June 28, 2024. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Former President Donald Trump’s sentencing in his hush money case has been postponed until at least September after the judge agreed Tuesday to weigh the possible impact of a new Supreme Court ruling on presidential immunity.

Trump had been scheduled to face sentencing July 11 on his New York conviction on felony charges of falsifying business records. He denies any wrongdoing.

The postponement sets the sentencing for Sept. 18 at the earliest, well after this month’s Republican National Convention, where Trump is set formally to accept the party’s nomination for president in this year’s race.

There was no immediate comment from Trump’s campaign or Manhattan prosecutors, who brought the case.

A Supreme Court ruling Monday granted broad immunity protections to presidents, while also restricting prosecutors from citing any official acts as evidence in trying to prove a president’s unofficial actions violated the law.

Hours after it was issued, Trump’s attorney requested that New York Judge Juan M. Merchan set aside the jury’s guilty verdict and delay the sentencing to consider how the high court’s ruling and could affect the hush money case.

He wrote that he’ll rule Sept. 6, and the next date in the case would be Sept. 18, “if such is still necessary.”

In their filing Monday, defense attorneys argued that Manhattan prosecutors had placed “highly prejudicial emphasis on official-acts evidence,” including Trump’s social media posts and witness testimony about Oval Office meetings.

Prosecutors said before the judge’s ruling Tuesday that they believed those arguments were “without merit” but that they wouldn’t oppose adjourning the sentencing for two weeks as the judge considers the matter.

Trump was convicted May 30 on 34 counts of falsifying business records arising from what prosecutors said was an attempt to cover up a $130,000 hush money payment to porn actor Stormy Daniels just before the 2016 presidential election.

Daniels claims she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006 after meeting him at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe. Trump has repeatedly denied that claim, saying at his June 27 debate with President Joe Biden: “I didn’t have sex with a porn star.”

Prosecutors said the Daniels payment was part of a broader scheme to buy the silence of people who might have gone public during the campaign with embarrassing stories alleging he had extramarital sex. Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen paid Daniels and was later reimbursed by Trump, whose company logged the reimbursements as legal expenses.

Falsifying business records is punishable by up to four years behind bars. Other potential sentences include probation, a fine or a conditional discharge which would require Trump to stay out of trouble to avoid additional punishment. Trump is the first ex-president convicted of a crime.

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Associated Press writer Michael R. Sisak contributed from Fort Pierce, Florida.

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